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How to help someone with Depression?

  • Ms Neha Dey Ms Neha Dey
  • 5 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

How to help someone with depression?

Depression also called major depressive disorder MDD is one of the most common yet complicated clinical conditions, it is characterized by pathology mood disorder showing symptoms of sadness/low mood and loss of interest. Although we come across the term very often, still, there is a lack of awareness about the condition and how to go about it? Depression affects millions including young adults and the elder population, obstructing our everyday routine. There is a tremendous amount of struggle not just for the individual having the condition, but also impacting everyone around them. The situation can be better managed with support but the question is how to help someone with depression?

Common signs of depression 

There can be different causes for depression, the symptoms may differ from person to person. Some people may show a combination of symptoms whereas some can have a cluster of symptoms. It is also important that we understand feeling low does not interpret you to have depression. The condition not just affects your mood, but also marks changes in sleeping pattern, energy, appetite, concentration, and thoughts.

Physiological signs of Depression:

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Excessive hunger
  • Difficulties sleeping or excessive sleepiness.
  • Unexplained aches and pains like a headache
  • Tiredness or fatigue

 Behavioral signs of Depression: 

  • Anger
  • Irritability 
  • Restlessness
  •  Frequent crying spells
  • Social isolation
  • In severe forms of depression, people can even find it difficult to perform their activities of daily living and continue with their work and relationships.

Psychological signs of Depression:

  • Persistent Sadness
  • Lack of interest in previously fond of and pleasurable activities
  • Feeling of emptiness 
  • Hopelessness
  • Negative thoughts or thoughts of self-harm

 Cognitive signs of Depression :

  • Difficulty remembering
  • Troubles concentrating and indecisiveness.
  • Slowness in performing activities or lack of motivation to perform.


What are some of the signs of depression in your workspace?

Look around, there could be signs of depression in your workspace, maybe a co-worker is struggling with these signs. The following are some of the signs that can help you identify whether a co-worker is having depression or any emotional issues.

  •  Try to be more vigilant of the changes in their behavior like getting easily irritable, aggressive, training aloof, and isolated, etc.
  • Try to observe changes in a performance like a sudden drop in performance, lack of interest at work, or continuous absenteeism 
  •  Try to observe changes in communication patterns like monosyllabic responses, sudden bouts of silence during meetings, absent-mindedness, etc


Risk factors for depression

  • Biological factors: chemical imbalance in the brain may lead to the symptoms of depression. It is often not clear when a person reports symptoms of depression without any major event or happenings, chemical imbalance reasons the same, abnormal levels of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine which are the important neurotransmitters/chemicals that can result in symptoms of depression.
  • Genetic factors: genetics play a major role in depression. WHO studies show that a person having a family history of depression has more positive chances of having the condition, family and twin studies are evidence for the role of genetic factors of depression, twin research data shows that the heritability rate for depression is almost 40% whereas family studies show a two- to threefold increase in the risk of depression in first-degree offspring of patients with depression. 
  • Environmental Factors: Stressful life events are one of the prominent risk factors for depression like loss of job, death in the family, relationship issues, grief, bereavement, different forms of abuse like physical abuse in childhood, domestic violence, sexual abuse in different stages of life including marital rapes, emotional abuse like constant criticizing, shaming, blaming, and substance abuse like drugs and excessive alcoholism, can also be considered causes of depression.

What is the right time to help someone with depression?

Once you notice these signs and symptoms of depression in the person it would be the right time to intervene. The decision of helping someone with depression could be overwhelming for both ‘the person who is having the condition and the person who decides to help’ before you offer help to make sure you are ready for it and think of it well.

What is the right way to offer help to someone with depression?

Depression is a tough condition to deal with, it can really get draining for the person going through it, having strong support can be very helpful in coping with the symptoms and everyday life.

  •  Try to accept the feelings, thoughts that they share with you
  •  Don’t try to minimize their thoughts or unacknowledge their feelings.
  •  The suggestions should be ethical and come from a clinical person and not personal.
  •  Set your boundaries regarding your availability and the amount of help you can offer for example your reachable time. 
  • Situations like suicidal thoughts or self-harm threats you can take help from helplines, psychologists, counselors, and other mental health professionals  


What is the right way to tell someone to seek professional help?

 It is important that you find a suitable time and a comfortable place to discuss, regarding professional help as it is a sensitive topic and can be overwhelming for the person. One-on-one conversation can be more helpful as it can appear embarrassing and uncomfortable in front of a group of people. Also making your intentions clear like you only wish to help can avoid misunderstanding, be selective of your words, try to ignore any harsh or demotivating terms. Always let the person know that you’re there to support them with their condition and will also help find the right guidance. 

When to route someone for professional help?

When you observe the person is struggling with his/her everyday life including disturbed sleep routine, disturbed eating habits, and difficulty to function adequately at the workplace and in personal relationships, then is the right time to channel a person for seeking professional help.

Professional help generally includes a diagnostic evaluation, recording an extensive case history, conducting psychological assessments, behaviour therapy, and in certain cases medications if needed. In certain cases, physical examinations like blood tests are also carried out to confirm whether the depression is due to a medical condition like a vitamin deficiency.


Who is the right professional to seek help?

The treatment plan generally depends on the condition and the severity of the condition.

  • In severe forms of depression-like Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Depression medication is the primary channel of treatment where the psychiatrist will be required to diagnose and provide the correct medication like antidepressants to help control the symptoms and manage the condition.
  • Whereas in moderate levels of depression a combination of medication and therapy is suggested where the clinical psychologist plays a vital role in conducting assessments, providing psychotherapy, and carrying out observation studies, Studies show a combination of medication and psychotherapy is also considered the most effective treatment for depression.
  • Milder forms of depression are mostly treated with therapy and counseling, relaxation techniques have also proven to be long-term help for depression that can be provided through Clinical and Counseling Psychologists.

The bottom line

Depression is one of the most treatable psychiatric conditions, more than 80% of the population with depression positively responds to the treatment, if not complete there is partial recovery from symptoms, we know that seeing your loved one going through the condition can seem though,  but definitely not helpless if you notice signs of depression in one you know talk to a Psychotherapist today.

Useful resources and helplines

– ICALL is an email and telephone-based counseling service run by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. They are available Monday to Saturday between 8 am and 10 pm. Helpline number: 091529 87821 and +91 22 2552111.

– AASRA is a Mumbai-based organization that has a 24×7 helpline service. Helpline number: 91-9820466726.

– THE VANDREVALA FOUNDATION is a 24/7 helpline service based out of Mumbai. Helpline numbers: +91 730 459 9836, +91 730 459 9837, and 1860 2662 345.

– THE FORTIS HEALTH CARE 24×7 Stress helpline. Helpline number: +9183768 04102.

– PARIVARTHAN is a Bangalore-based counseling center. Helpline number +91 76766 02602

– COOJ MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION is a Goa-based mental health organization. They are available on call Monday through Friday between 1 pm and 7 pm. Helpline number: +832 2252525

– SNEHA FOUNDATION is a 24/7 suicide prevention organization based out of Chennai. Helpline number 044-24640050

Read more on depression here








  • Ms Neha Dey
  • Written by

    Ms Neha Dey

Neha Dey, has completed her education in Psychology, currently works with MFine as a consultant psychologist, she has been practicing psychology for the past two years in a corporate and clinical setup, her areas of interest are de-addiction counseling, working with children, and adult population having a neurotypical condition, she prefers using behavioural modification therapy BMT as her approach to psychology.

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